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South Glens Falls man accused of violating SAFE Act challenges constitutionality

Thursday, July 25, 2013
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William G. Greene of Moreau talks to the media after appearing at Moreau Town Court in May. Greene was arrested for illegally selling a RGuns .223-5.56 caliber assualt style rifle with pistol grip through his Facebook account to an undercover police officer.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
William G. Greene of Moreau talks to the media after appearing at Moreau Town Court in May. Greene was arrested for illegally selling a RGuns .223-5.56 caliber assualt style rifle with pistol grip through his Facebook account to an undercover police officer.

— One of the first alleged violators of the state's SAFE Act is challenging the constitutionality of the law.

Saratoga County First Assistant District Attorney Karen A. Heggen said the attorney for William Greene, 51, of South Glens Falls, has raised issues about the constitutionality of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act that was spearheaded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Greene, who allegedly sold an assault weapon to an undercover police officer in April without performing a background check, was charged with the unlawful transfer of an assault weapon and disposing of the weapon without a background check, which became class A misdemeanors as the result of changes to state law this year.

Greene briefly appeared this morning in Moreau Town Court, where a court appearance was mistakenly anticipated due to a scheduling error. His last appearance was at his formal arraignment in May.

Greene had hoped at least some of the charges against him would be dismissed Thursday. He is due back in court Aug. 22, at which point the state Attorney General’s Office will have a chance to weigh in on the constitutionality of the SAFE Act.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a proponent of gun control who fought for the microstamping of guns while serving in the state Senate, has repeatedly stressed his belief in the constitutionality of the SAFE Act. Opponents argue it is a violation of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The SAFE Act has been amended by the state Legislature and governor since Greene was arrested, which he said illustrates that the law was flawed. He argued it has always been too hard to understand, noting his own belief earlier this year that provisions in the law weren’t going into effect until 2014.

“If I knew exactly what was going on the in the first place, I wouldn’t have done it," he said. "There’s a lot of people out there that just don’t know what was going on. If I knew about the law, would I have brought them to my house, in front of my wife and my kid? No, I wouldn’t have done that.”

According to Heggen, the charges facing Greene were all on the books at least a month before he was arrested.

A legal defense fund has been started by sympathizers to Greene who are opposed to the SAFE Act. Green said he was appreciative of the fund, especially because money has been tight for months, which actually prompted him to try to sell the gun this year. At the time of the sale, he wanted money because his wife was having surgery and he wanted to have a graduation party for his daughter.

He described the ongoing legal process as stressful and gut-wrenching.

A link to make donations can be found at the Friends of Bill Greene page on Facebook.

 
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